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Blanching: What is it? What can I use it for?

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Blanched beans being quenched in iced waterHave you ever seen the word “blanching” in a recipe and have been too intimidated to give it a try? If you have, you are not alone. I tend to skip over recipes that call for blanching because it has seemed too sophisticated and fancy. Blanching is a technique that gourmet chefs use, not normal cooks like myself (well somewhat normal :)). The other day I tried a deliciouspizza recipe and it called for blanching so I decided to give it a try. Here is what I learned.

– It is super easy!!!

– It helps preserve the nutrients and flavor of the vegetable/fruit

– It involves 4 steps. 1) Boil water. 2)Toss vegetable/or fruit into water for 30 seconds. 3) Remove vegetable/fruit 4) Immediately submerge vegetable into ice water and dry.

So what is the point of blanching?

Blanching is used for a variety of reasons. It helps to bring out the vibrant color in green vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, or green beans. Boiling helps to soften it a little bit and submerging it in ice water stops the cooking process, so you are left with a tender crisp vegetable. This can be a great technique to use for broccoli salads or stir frys.

Blanching can also be used to soften the skin on fruit or vegetables. Blanching tomatoes can be a useful technique prior to making tomato sauce to help remove the skin. It makes the peeling process so much easier!

Lastly, blanching should be used to stop the enzyme action of produce prior to freezing such as in carrots, spinach or peppers. For recommended blanching time for freezing please check out this website.

Personally, my favorite part about blanching is the way green vegetables look more vibrant. Have you ever wondered how restaurants make a vibrant green pesto sauce and why yours always looks dull? It is all in the blanching :)

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